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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

In many ways, road trips are one of the most easy-going, stress free ways to travel—no security lines, middle seats or even armrests to wrestle over. But even the most easygoing, veteran road tripper knows some pre-planning is in order. So, if you’re thinking about hitting the road, here’s a quick packing list to make your next road trip go from pretty nice to legendary.

RELATED: And don’t forgot to pack one of these stylish travel-themed masks

1. Versatile layers

You’ve heard it over and over. Pack layers. One minute you might be soaking in some sun, and the next a cold breeze picks up and you’re second-guessing that decision to wear a T-shirt and shorts. This is especially true in mountain and desert environments. But the good news is that it’s not too late to purchase some gear before packing for the road. The North Face Women’s Canyonlands Hoodie is designed for hiking and climbing, delivering warmth without the weight. Kari Traa Alelam Base Layer Pants are cozy and keep you warm and dry. Guys, check out Patagonia’s R1® Air Crew. They’re light, breathable and perfect for warmth and versatility. And don’t forget your gloves and rain jacket. You never know if it’ll rain or snow, especially if you pull over to explore higher altitude trails along the way.

2. Solar-powered light-speaker-charger

The MPOWERD Luci Explore will become the best travel companion during your road trip (no offense to your significant other). This lightweight, solar-powered and water-resistant device is your alarm clock, light, speaker and phone charger in one. Just pair your phone with it or use the MPOWERD app and you’re ready to go.

3. Earth-friendly, refillable propane tank

Propane bottles are often single-use products. Millions end up in landfills every year because most places won’t recycle them. So, for all of you car campers and van-lifers, you can keep it green this fall with the Ignik Gas Growler Deluxe. This easy to set up, 5-pound and refillable canister is cradled by an insulated case that keeps the tank warmer and therefore more efficient. It also connects to any propane appliance or stove, holds the equivalent of five bottles, and lasts five times longer. With this, you’ll be cooking camp dinners without polluting our world.

4. A portable coffeemaker

Grabbing coffee from a local shop comes with any good road trip, especially now that it’s pumpkin-spiced latte season. But what about those times you’re at camp or on the porch swing of a cozy rented cabin, cuddled together and waiting for the sun to peek up over the horizon? That’s where the Wacaco Minipresso GR comes in handy. Just boil some water and let this compact travel gadget brew up any variety of coffee bean or roast. If you’re driving and feel like a cup of tea while watching the colorful landscape roll by, the SUNSBELL Car Kettle Boiler will be your go-to. Simply plug it into your vehicle’s lighter outlet to boil some water and you’re good to go.

5. A car-sized air mattress

As the miles tick away and the hum of the tires on the road lull you into a comfy spell, chances are someone might get a little tired. So, if you’re the driver needing a break or just a sleepy passenger nodding off, take a nap in the backseat on the HAITRAL Portable Air Mattress. It fits most car models, comes with two pillows and when you wake up, you’ll be refreshed and ready to hit some trails or stroll the next town’s main drag.

6. A dual cellphone mount and charger

Keep your hands safely on the wheel during your journey with this cool device. The iOttie Dash and Windshield Mount supports all smartphone sizes, securely holding it in place and charging at the same time. Need to take it off when you stop? The one-touch release system allows you to do it with one finger. Be sure to also download those necessary apps before you leave: Waze for real-time traffic updates, Gasbuddy for cheap fuel, and SkyView Lite for those crisp nights staring up at the brilliant night sky.

Cheaptickets has not received compensation for these product endorsements.

Tagged: Cheap Tips, Seasonal, Tips & advice, Types of Travel

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Spend a fall day at one of America’s favorite orchards, and you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labor. Here’s where to go apple picking this fall:


Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards: LaFayette, NY 

Come for the apple picking at this century-old farm about 100 miles west of Rochester. Stay for, well, a whole lot more. The kids’ play area is full of old-fashioned rides and games. Apple Hill Country Store & Bake Shop sells everything from local cheddar cheese to homemade fudge to apple everything, obvs. There’s even a tasting room where adults can sample apple-based wine and spirits. The place even thrives during the summer, with events ranging from lawn concerts to paint-and-sip parties to CrossFit.

Patterson Fruit Farm: Chesterland, OH

On weekends, climb aboard a wagon and head for the orchards for some choice apple picking in this Cleveland suburb.Pack a lunch to enjoy in the picnic area, or hit up the Farm Market, which sells produce, apple cider, apple fritters and such. And pencil in this year’s Fun Fest; it runs from Sept. 17 to Oct. 30, with horse-drawn wagon rides, pony rides, a corn maze, pumpkin painting and more.

Stribling OrchardMarkham, VA

Located about 60 miles west of Washington, DC, this farm is nearly as old as apple picking itself. Spring for the $8 tour, which includes a talk about the orchard’s history (some of the buildings date back to the 1700s), a peek at the horses and sheep, and a 1/4 peck of U-pick apples. The orchard is located in the gorgeous Shenandoah Valley, so bring your good camera.

Kiyokawa Family Orchards: Parkdale, OR

About 80 miles east of Portland, this farm offers stunning views of Mount Hood. It’s also where to go apple picking in the Pacific Northwest if you’re particular about your produce—simply check out its online “ready dates” calendar so you know exactly when each variety is ripe for the picking. The calendar is also ripe with special events, from hard cider tastings to a farm-to-table dessert festival to Fiesta Days with Mariachi music and Mexican food. Because man does not live on apples alone.

Weston’s Antique Apples: New Berlin, WI

This orchard in suburban Milwaukee that offers dozens of apple varieties ripe for apple picking, but that’s just the beginning. There are plenty of special events, like this year’s Sept. 11 Historic Fest and Oct. 2 Apple Fest. And to really get rooted in orchard life, sign up for a class in pruning, grafting or pest management. But only if you’re hardcore.


Tagged: Family, Seasonal

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Pour your favorite pumpkin-flavored beverage into a travel mug. It’s time to hit the road and check out some jaw-droppingly gorgeous fall foliage.

The Berkshires

We could fill this entire list with places in New England, but this western Massachusetts region gets top billing for having an entire festival celebrating autumn colors—the aptly named Fall Foliage Festival. This year’s event is Sept. 23 to Oct. 2, kicking off peak leaf-peeping time, which happens during the first few weeks of October. Start your visit by attending the oh-so-quaint Fall Foliage Parade, then drive the 55-mile-long Mohawk Trail, teeming with rolling hills, gurgling streams and Native American history.

The Berkshires: This is about as "fall" as it gets. The pumpkins are not the focus of this image - just look at those rolling mountains covered in gorgeous fall foliage. Credit Ogden Gigli via Massachusetts Office of Tourism/Flickr.

The Berkshires: This is about as “fall” as it gets. Credit Ogden Gigli via Massachusetts Office of Tourism/Flickr.

Gold Coast, Michigan

Start in Traverse City, and drive for more than 250 miles of beauty along the Lake Michigan shore, through Northport and Frankfort. Stop for apple cider at Kilcherman’s Christmas Cove Farm and in St. Joseph to ride the Silver Beach Carousel. Late September to mid-October is the best time to see these fall hues.

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina

Begin in Roanoke, Virginia, and drive south toward Asheville, North Carolina, for a show-stopping landscape of bright yellow hickories, orange sassafras trees and brilliantly red swamp dogwoods. There’s no shortage of things to do along this 469-stretch of the national park system, from exploring the bustling Harrisonburg Farmers Market in Virginia to climbing Chimney Rock near Asheville. Mid-to late October is a good time to catch plenty of color; leaves change hues at the highest elevation first.

Maybe they should rename it the Red Ridge Parkway, thanks to all those vibrant red trees. Credit: Sarah Zucca/Flickr.

Maybe they should rename it the Red Ridge Parkway. Credit: Sarah Zucca/Flickr.

Ozark National Forest, Arkansas

You could spend a week exploring the Ozark Mountain Range, which stretches through Arkansas and Missouri. But to focus your trip, head to Arkansas’ Slymore Scenic Byway, which fully lives up to its name. The 26.5-mile stretch is packed with colorful mountain views. While you’re in the area, explore Blanchard Springs Caverns and watch as pioneer life is reenacted at Ozark Folk Center State Park; the park’s live bluegrass performances make a perfect soundtrack for your trip.

The Ozarks: Don't even think about putting a filter on this gorgeousness, which features rolling, green mountains peeking out from behind some red foliage. Credit Nancy/Flickr.

The Ozarks: Don’t even think about putting a filter on this gorgeousness. Credit Nancy/Flickr.

Green Mountain Byway, Vermont

Even the name sounds like a breath of fresh autumn air. This 11-mile stretch spans between two mountain ridges, surrounding drivers with golden and orange maple trees. The trip starts in the resort town of Stowe and ends, conveniently, in Waterbury—home of the Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour. Because it’s always ice cream season.

We'd stow away for a trip to Vermont's Green Mountain Byway - just look at that bright orange fall foliage. Credit: GoStowe.com.

We’d stow away for a trip to Vermont’s Green Mountain Byway. Credit: GoStowe.com.

Columbia River Highway, Oregon

For a fall road trip that’s not overrun with tourists, the West Coast might just be the best coast. In addition to fall foliage (and yes, it changes colors), this 70-mile stretch offers vistas of waterfalls, monuments, bridges and gorges. The route is home to several wineries, so commemorate your vacation with a souvenir bottle or two. Late October is a good time to catch the leaves in all their glory.

Wahkeena Creek and it's gorgeous fall foliage is just one of the many jaw-dropping sites along Oregon's Columbia River Gorge. Credit Ian Sane/Flickr.

Wahkeena Creek is just one of the many jaw-dropping sites along Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge. Credit Ian Sane/Flickr.

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Tagged: Family, FREE!, Seasonal

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Trips to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America are pretty cheap this time of year, what with June to November being Atlantic hurricane season. If you can’t resist a great deal, you can still snag a bargain vacation and reduce your odds of getting hurricaned on. Just follow these tips.

Related: Luxury for less: How to get a cheap Mexico vacation


1) Avoid hurricane hot spots. While there are no guarantees in life, some destinations are more hurricane-prone than others. To avoid islands outside of the so-called hurricane belt, focus on the southern Caribbean and remember your ABCs—ArubaBonaire and Curaçao are generally safer bets for avoiding a direct hit.

2) Book last-minute. Sometimes it pays to procrastinate. If your schedule is flexible, then check the extended weather forecast and book your trip when the coast is clear—literally. The CheapTickets Last-Minute Flight and Travel Deals page can help you find bargains in a hurry.

3) Get the insurance. You’re already saving a bundle by vacationing during the off-season. Do yourself a favor and buy travel insurance. Packages generally cost between 5 and 10 percent of the value of your trip; insurance on, say, a $1,500 trip would cost around$150. Make sure your policy includes “trip cancellation and interruption,” and check to see if your credit card company automatically includes insurance on trips you’ve paid for with the card.

4) Fly smart. If possible, book a direct flight and avoid checking your luggage to avoid needless hassles like missed connections and lost luggage.

5) Be an airport ace. When flights get cancelled, airports turn into an episode of Survivor. Stay one step ahead of your fellow passengers by arriving the your gate early and hanging out near the kiosk so you can hear updates and get your name on the list for food and hotel vouchers, should they be offered. Share your contact info with the gate agent, and keep your cell phone charged so you’ll be accessible to the airline and. Also download the FlightStats app so you can see when seats become available.

6) Document everything. If you find yourself stranded, hold onto your receipts for food, cab rides, hotel rooms and other expenses so you can be reimbursed by your insurance company. Use an app like TinyScan to limit the paperwork.

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Tagged: Caribbean, Cruise, Jamaica, Mexico

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